When office moves go wrong

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With the British economy on the up and up, many businesses are emerging from their recession induced lockdown and are starting to spread their wings. With a more stable financial climate on the horizon businesses are tentatively looking to expand. New premises can breathe new life into a jaded workforce, and enable companies to introduce change, accelerate growth and capture new business opportunities.

Moving office should be an exciting time for a business and its staff, but it doesn’t always end up that way, and in fact some office moves should come with a health warning!

Here are some calamitous examples of office moves gone wrong, and how you can avoid making the same mistakes with your move

Fail to prepare, and you prepare to…..where is everyone?….

It’s impossible to start preparing for an office move too far in advance. As soon as rumblings about new office premises and a potential move are on the cards, get cracking with the planning

Best practice says that you should start reviewing your office options 9-18 months prior to your lease expiration regardless of whether you are considering renewing, renegotiating or relocating, something the Australian government should have taken note of!

In August 2013 the Queensland government paid more than $260,000 per month on rent for unused, empty office space. Poor communication when it came to changes in staffing levels and office space requirements left the words ‘epic fail’ echoing through their empty real estate.

Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt said ‘‘To pay more than $3 million a year to lease offices no-one uses is a shambles!”

Leaving everything to the last minute can result in hasty decisions, increased costs, and reduced flexibility putting you in a less favourable negotiating position. so start planning your move asap!

Communicate or face the consequences! 

Every company says that their staff are their most important asset but, sadly for some businesses this is just a glib comment and not a day to day reality

An office move presents a golden opportunity for businesses to re-energise their staff and position themselves better for the future. However, for this to happen it is vital that companies don’t neglect the needs and feelings of their workforce.

Royal Mail are serial offenders when it comes to corporate gaffs (who can forget it’s fleeting and failed rebrand to Consignia in 2001?) and it seems that they are slow to get the message about their ham fisted management and communication strategy. In September 2012 staff at Royal Mail’s Harpenden branch went on strike and put together a 10,000 strong petition to prevent the office relocation to St Albans.

At a time when staff should have been informed, consulted and their feedback considered so that they felt favourably towards their employer and the move they were left with unanswered questions and very little reassuring information. Simply being told that they would be reimbursed for additional mileage costs wasn’t really going to cut the mustard.

Tom Walker a representative from the Communications Workers Union who was involved in the strike said “They have removed the staff canteen and break areas but we don’t believe it is has provided sufficient space for 52 additional employees……the car parking is also horrendous and the congestion will be terrible. We believe the move is short sighted and opportunist.”

Change can be unsettling and some staff might even feel resistant to an office move. With this in mind, an office move requires good change management, communication and people skills.

The best way forwards is to anticipate the likely issues before they are raised, and encourage open dialogue well in advance of any office move.

Providing employees with clear communications about the reasons behind the relocation (and the benefits it will bring) will help get your employees on board with what you are wanting to achieve. Relocating is hard enough, but relocating with a mutiny on your hands too is even harder!

Your new office space can boost productivity

In a survey by Management Today magazine almost 97% of respondents said that they regarded their place of work as a symbol of whether or not they were valued by their employer, and worryingly 33% also said that they were too ashamed of their offices to bring back colleagues or clients.

This correlation between working environment, the happiness levels of staff should not be dismissed lightly. Growing dissatisfaction by staff in their workplace can result in poor staff retention, decreasing levels of motivation, and falling profits.

In a study into the impact of office design on business performance renowned brand consultant Wally Olins states “Environments have to be designed which enable staff to see that the company means what it says. You can’t eat, drink or sit on vision and value statements”

Moving to a new office can provide you with the freedom and opportunity to create an ideal  working environment, inspire staff, and boost the success levels of your company, but careful planning is necessary.

Before getting carried away with creative ideas, such as bean bags instead of swivel chairs and a fireman’s pole instead of a lift you must address the fundamental requirements of a new office space. Plan the space required for current staff levels, and projected expansion, and make sure that the layout complies with health and safety guidelines.

Planning the entire move, including the new office design can be broken down into a series of simple tasks and checks. The intelligent use of project planning documents, spreadsheets and checklists will not only help you plan the move, but also act as your road map.

Planning and preparation really are central to a successful office move, it’s hackneyed but true “if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.”

With the right planning, budgeting and management an office move can enable you to raise your corporate profile, grow your client base, improve your operational efficiency, and retain and attract new staff. Approached the wrong way you may find yourself in a deserted office, staffless and thinking that maybe bean bags weren’t such a ‘fun yet practical seating solution’ after all.

Article by Help Moving Office

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